Tuesday, April 28, 2008 • Lassen Volcanic National Park’s road opens to Devastated Area

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 28, 2008, edition of the Lassen County Times.

A 10-mile section of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s scenic road opened to vehicle traffic on the Manzanita Lake side of the park.

“Our equipment operators are making great progress by opening the main park road to the Devastated Area,” said Superintendent Darlene Koontz.  “This is an excellent start to the annual task of clearing the 30 miles of park roadway to allow safe access for park visitors.”  The entire park road typically opens fully to the public by mid-June depending on weather conditions.

Crews began the snow-removal process at Manzanita Lake on March 6, and have moved operations to the south side of the park.  A snowcat, aided by global positioning system technology, marks the path of the road and is then followed by three bulldozers and a rotary snowblower.

Working in 10-hour shifts, it usually takes crews a total of 2 1/2 months to clear the entire park road depending on the amount of snow.  This year, the snow depth at the Lake Helen Snow Survey site measured 133 inches of snow, which is 76 percent of normal. The average depth of snow for this area is 175 inches of snow.

The road to the Devastated Area provides excellent opportunities for visitors to hike, cross-country ski, play in the snow, or to picnic against the backdrop of Lassen’s spectacular scenery. Visitors are advised that this portion of the park road may close periodically due to storms throughout the spring.

Although weather in the valley is mild, visitors should still prepare for winter conditions at Lassen Volcanic National Park by dressing in layers, bringing sunglasses, sunscreen, extra water and food, as well as vehicle chains and blankets for vehicles. Snow players and cross-country skiers should stay clear of snowplows working in the park as equipment operators may be unable to see or hear them.